May 2021: Itchen Boat Clearance

The upstream area on 13th May after operations had commenced

The upstream area on 13th May after operations had commenced

I have been living next to the tidal section of the River Itchen since 1996 and there has always been “River Gypsies” living on boats, mainly to either side of Northam bridge. Often they occupy 3 or 4 decrepit hulls rafted together on a single mooring. Sometimes boats sink or are abandoned and recently the number of wrecks has been growing. The River Itchen up to Woodmill is part of the Port of Southampton and Notices of Removal were issued back in May 2021. Finally ABP have taken action and the barge Wilcarry 503 has been used to help lift, cut up, and carry away many of the wrecks in an operation lasting much of the month.

10th May: I first realised the work had stated while on a short walk along the board walk towards Northam Bridge. I realise now that they must have been packing up for the day with Wilcat being used to push Wilcarry 503 back downstream. I took some photos of the historic wrecks on the downstream side of the Bridge where there appeared to have been a spring algal bloom.

13th May: The wrecks being cleared felt like the end of an era so I took some photos to record what was there (finishing with a couple of photos of the lived on boats on the downstream side).

29th May: A phase of the operation appears to have ended so here are some photos of what is presently left.